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Lesson Ideas

Myth-Busting Scientific Articles

This collection of adapted research articles will engage your students in using the scientific method to challenge their beliefs. As they myth-bust, students will be learning about gender norms, animal behaviors, climate change, or other fascinating and true research discoveries! Engage students with standards-matched adaptations, introductory video content, comprehension questions, and vocabulary to further your lesson outcomes. Each adapted article also comes with additional suggestions for activities to enhance the readers’ understanding and make the class more exciting.

1. MYTH: Disease has the same impact on men and women.

Abstract: Did you know that your sex can change the way your body responds to disease? We wanted to know how the female body responds to serious heart problems. To do this, we looked through previous studies on heart disease. We tracked how many people died in the 30 days after we knew their heart wasn’t working well. Did female patients die more than male patients? Unfortunately, we found that they did. We think this could be because a higher percentage of female patients had the most serious condition, heart failure, after a heart attack. Heart failure means your heart isn’t pumping enough blood. However, we don’t understand exactly why there’s a difference between the sexes. If we can work this out, then doctors may be able to provide better treatment for their patients.

This article is suitable for middle school students. This article is available in English and Spanish, with audio versions also in both English and Spanish. This article includes a Lesson Idea video to engage students in learning about blood circulation. It also features an Ask-A-Scientist video interview with the original researcher, Dr. Edina Cenko.

  • Key words: gender
  • Scientific figures: bar graph
  • Scientific method: data validation, meta-analysis, survey research, systematic review

2. MYTH: Only mammals and birds play; insects don’t.

Abstract: Have you watched cute cat videos or funny dog compilations? Or primates “monkeying around”? Then you know that mammals love to play. Even the dancing cockatiel has gone viral! But have you ever considered whether insects play “for fun”? We did an experiment to test whether bumble bees take part in object play. We wanted to see whether they would interact and play with wooden balls. We found that the bumble bees did play with a ball-rolling action. Their behavior fulfilled our expectations of play in animals. What’s more, they also found it rewarding! We ruled out the possibility that the ball rolling was an attempt to look for food or to mate. This suggests that bumble bees may be more capable of feeling than we had thought!

This article is suitable for elementary school and middle school students. An audio version is available in English. This article includes an SJK Academy Research Recap video to help students summarize the content.

  • Key words: animal behavior, bees, insects
  • Scientific figures: pictograph
  • Scientific method: experiment, observation

3. MYTH: Women overstate their period pain.

Abstract: Normally, the tissue that makes up each of your body’s organs only grows in the place it should. But that’s not the case for people with endometriosis. With this disease, tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus as lesions. These cause pain and infertility. Endometriosis affects about 10% of women worldwide as well as some trans people. On very rare occasions it has been detected in men. Scientists know that people with endometriosis have high levels of a type of white blood cell called macrophages. We wanted to find out how macrophages affected the growth of lesions as well as pain in people with endometriosis. So, we studied mice with endometriosis in a laboratory. We changed the number and type of macrophages present in the mice to learn how these cells affect the development of lesions. We discovered that certain types of macrophages may help to treat endometriosis. Others encourage the development of lesions. Our findings could lead to new treatments for endometriosis patients!

This article is suitable for high school students. An audio version is available in English. This article includes an SJK Academy Research Recap video to help students summarize the content.

  • Key words: disease control, genetics, immunity
  • Scientific figures: data table, pie chart
  • Scientific method: experiment, gene editing

4. MYTH: Climate change won’t affect me.

Abstract: Have you ever ridden on an airplane? If so, was there a moment when it suddenly started to shake? That unpleasant and sometimes scary shaking is called turbulence. If there is no storm, or even clouds, it can seem to come out of nowhere! We wanted to find out whether clear-air turbulence has increased over the past 40 years. We analyzed data from 1979 to 2020 and found a big increase over the mid-latitudes. The skies that most planes fly through are bumpier now than four decades ago. In fact, over the North Atlantic, severe turbulence increased by 55%. Our findings are important because they show that we are already seeing the impacts of climate change in unexpected ways. 

This article is suitable for lower high school students. This article is available in English and Spanish, with audio versions also in both English and Spanish. This article includes an SJK Academy Research Recap video to help students summarize the content.

  • Key words: climate change, physics
  • Scientific figures: pictograph, scatter plot
  • Scientific method: GIS, proxy data, scientific modeling

5. MYTH: Men are hunters, women are gatherers.

Abstract: Have you heard that women should make dinner for their family? Or that only men should work outside the home? Unfortunately, many people believe in these ideas about gender roles. It makes it hard to look at new situations without bias. For a long time, scientists have thought that in foraging societies, men are hunters and women are gatherers. We questioned these ideas. We investigated how often women take part in hunting, what they hunt, and how they hunt. We found that women do hunt intentionally in a lot of foraging societies. They sometimes hunt with different tools than men. We also found women are more flexible in whom they hunt with. They often take dogs and children with them. We can use this information to rethink our historical biases about the role of women in hunting.

This article is suitable for middle school students. An audio version is available in English. This article includes an SJK Academy Research Recap video to help students summarize the content.

  • Key words: archaeology, gender, inequality
  • Scientific figures: map
  • Scientific method: case study, meta-analysis, systematic review

That’s Not All!

Check out our collections of other myth-challenging content on the topics of AI and ChatGPT, Energy and Climate Change, Infectious Diseases, Pollution, Discrimination, Evolution and Natural Selection, Poverty, and Women and Girls.

Title image by Artem Podrez

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